I just finished watching an old film, "The Next Karate Kid." I taped it off the movie channel and made myself a copy to keep, and was waiting around to hear if my son wanted a copy made for him, too, before erasing it from the HDD. This film was made in 1994 and starred Hilary Swank, who was a young-looking 20 yr. old, playing a rebellious high schooler. In the film, Mr. Miyagi (played by Pat Morita) teaches her to respect every living thing, including cockroaches.
I thought it ironic that point would be made in the film because I had just talked about cockroaches with my friends last Saturday, when one was found in her home while I was visiting. I remember saying I didn't know what purpose they fulfilled in God's plan; why would He create such a loathsome insect??
But after watching that film, I remembered how in my childhood, I had been deathly afraid of spiders. If one was discovered in my room, I wouldn't be able to sleep until my dad had come in and killed it for me, as I was too terrified to get anywhere near it! Once when my dad wasn't home, I asked my eldest brother to kill a spider in my room instead. He flatly refused, saying he didn't believe in killing (with a much larger meaning--he was a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War, too). I don't remember what I did after he wouldn't help me; maybe I forced myself to kill it.
Anyway, flash forward to my adulthood and discovering spiders in my home here in Japan. I don't know how it came about, but I wasn't afraid of them anymore. In fact, I had learned that spiders are a homeowner's friend, eating small insects around the house, so I began to address the spiders I'd find here and there with a salute and, "Yoroshiku!" (which roughly translated means, 'I leave it to you to take care of small insects in our home, please.') Gradually this sense of respect for the work of spiders (for my own benefit) has transferred to many insects or creepy crawlers found in nature. They have their own part in the Master Plan of life. Who am I to say they don't?
But somehow, I have had a hard time accepting the "part" of cockroaches in any plan that includes me. Yet, progress has been made, in the sense that now I can say to the cockroaches inevitably living under furniture, in the dark recesses of my home, "Okay, you guys; we can live in the same house on ONE condition. You come out only when I'm not around, or awake...OK??! You show your face, and I'll be forced to try to kill you. I'm just being honest, here; it's in your own best interest not to meet me in person."
Mr. Miyagi might not agree, but it is as close to respect as I can get regarding cockroaches.